The world of the vita comes to us in many forms, in many words--but not so much as it seems.  The various terms can sometimes seem to add up to more than the vita itself.

a. "Curriculum Vitae," "Vita," "Vitae," "CV," "C.V.," and "c.v." are all basically interchangeable as terms, and simply mean a comprehensive representation in outline form of your education, professional history, accolades, interests, and other relevant information.  A vita is generally created for presentation to a prospective employer, or for a special circumstance, such as an award or promotion, for example.  There are no length requirements or limits for a vita.

· ADVICE. Of course, words like "vita," which is singular, and "vitae," which is plural, are not interchangeable as words in normal usage.  Their interchangeability holds only when they're referring to this document, and even then it is only popular usage that has made it so.  People argue the merits and correct usage of the various terms even today, but the truth is that all the permutations of terminology have their adherents, and any one is appropriate in this context.  Just be consistent.

b. A "résumé," or "resume," is a highly abbreviated version of the vita, a summary, and is usually only a single page in length.
c. A "bio" or a "short bio" is an even shorter version of this information, and is usually in narrative form, rather than outline.  It is normally a paragraph long. 
d. "Contributor's notes" is an even shorter summation, normally one or two sentences long.

  • ADVICE. Early in a career, a vita and a résumé can often be the same thing.  The volume or length of entries is not yet a real factor.  Nothing is wrong with this.  As a career gets going, however, it is reasonable to think that the vita will expand.  But be patient.  Whatever you do, don't try to "pad" the vita to make it longer, and therefore seemingly better.  Anyone in the field will spot this a mile away.  On the other hand, do not leave out anything that fairly and relevantly belongs--that is, don't try to outguess a hiring committee.

"There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept."--Ansel Adams